Advice for Boat Dwellers

If you are a Boat Dweller and are licenced on a continuous cruising basis then you will need to be aware of the following two conditions, as outlined by British Waterways:


  • Your boat must be used for navigation. This means that you are required to be engaged in a progressive journey around the network. Short trips within the same area are not considered journeys.


  • You must not stay in the same place for 14 days. ‘Place’ refers to a particular neighbourhood, not a mooring site. On rural waterways, a village or hamlet will count as a neighbourhood and on urban waterways, a suburb or district within a city or town will count as a neighbourhood.


Licensing and legislation


Please find Kennet and Avon Boating Community for some legal advice. Here they refer to the human rights act to state that you are entitled to defend yourself in court, should your boat be removed from the waterways. They also write that the 14-day rule should be read in conjunction with a 28-day notice period.

Regarding licensing, the Canal River Trust say that all types of boats need a licence to use on canals and rivers. You will need to determine whether you require a private licence or a business licence. A business licence will cover you if your boat is used for business purposes e.g. as a floating café or shop, or is rented out as a home or holiday home. Private licences can be short or long term. Gold licenses allow you to use your boat on both the Canal & River Trust network and waterways owned by the Environment Agency.

Below are links to separate authorities responsible for licensing in different waterways:





Boater groups


Below you will find a list of support groups and their active Facebook pages, offering advice and support for boaters who are facing obstacles due to their way of life:

National Bargee Travellers Association | Facebook

The NBTA is an organisation that represents the interests of itinerant boaters, run by volunteers.

London Boaters – We Are These People | Facebook

A group of boaters who fight for the rights of all London’s waterborne dwellers. They meet up monthly for a social and discussion.

Kennet and Avon Canal Boaters Society | Facebook

A friendly and informal group, offering advice to boaters on the Kennet and Avon.

National Association of Boat Owners | Facebook

NABO is an organisation that provides representation for all private boat owners in the UK.

Liveaboard Boaters’ Health & Wellbeing | Facebook

An informative page that uploads general info, health and wellbeing advice, links and opportunities to get involved.

Urban Moorings CIC | Wolverhampton | Facebook

A community project that helps create moorings and regenerate the Canalside in Wolverhampton.

Canal Ministries | Facebook

A group of Christian evangelists who live on the waterways across the UK.


Other contacts


Julia Lally: [email protected]

Sam: [email protected]

Panda: [email protected]

Paul Biddy: [email protected]

If you would like your name adding to this list please email: [email protected]

If you are experiencing difficulties please contact the Friends, Families and Travellers helpline on 01273 234 777. We are open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4.30pm excluding bank holidays.

Correct as of April 2024.

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